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05-29-2013, 11:58 PM - 1 Like   #1
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Fixed: unresponsive thumbwheel

Hello all,

Just thought I'd share a solution I have for a problem that I had with my old K100d.

The problem was a rear wheel that was somewhat less responsive than it should have been. I would have to roll the wheel two or three clicks before the aperture or shutter speed would adjust when the camera was used in AV mode, TV mode, or M mode. The lack or responsiveness was also apparent when I was scrolling in to review my images on the back LCD. Rolling the wheel slowly worked somewhat better, but the problem still persisted. And, worse still, when I rolled the wheel quickly, sometimes the shutter/aperture/image review would move in the wrong direction altogether! Switching settings on the fly was become a rather big pain-in-the-butt.

Well, if you have this issue, here's what's probably wrong with your camera and here's one way to fix it:

Over time oil, grease, and salt from the sweat on your hands transfers onto your thumb wheel where it eventually gums up and corrodes the metal electrical contacts inside the camera. This gunky build up creates a barrier that decreases the amount of electrical contact area and, thus, your thumbwheel spins freely, but isn't adjusting anything.

To fix this problem, you can use either 99% pure rubbing alcohol (hard to find here in Canada) or a high quality lighter fluid (I use Ronson's Lighter Fluid, $6 CAD). Pour a minuscule amount onto a spoon (about the size of half a green pea) and then pour the fluid onto the wheel. Keeping the camera facing wheel side up, quickly spin the wheel several times in either direction. Wait a few minutes and then repeat the process once more. Voila! Put the batteries back into the camera, set it to M mode and you should find that your thumb wheel in now running perfectly well again.

Important to note:
Both pure alcohol and lighter fluid evaporate very quickly even at low temperatures. Lower purity alcohol like 70% conatins 30% water, and thus doesn't evaporate as quickly. (Putting water in your camera is bad, use the pure stuff or use lighter fluid). Both act as effective solvents and both leave no reside behind.
If you have the latest and greatest (and priciest) Pentax camera around, its probably got rubber weather seals to lock out moisture, dust, and dirt. Will Alcohol or lighter fluid break down these rubbers? I don't know. I wouldn't risk it myself, though. For my old non-weathersealed K100d, this fix worked perfectly well. If your camera is worth a lot, perhaps the best suggestion would be to take it in to a repair shop or even better, if it's still under warranty, send it back to Pentax themselves for servicing.

Best wishes,

Key words: Thumb wheel, e-dial, e dial, scroll wheel, scrollwheel, camera dial.

05-30-2013, 09:54 AM   #2
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Thanks for the tip ... I still have my K110D and it has no problems ... but, if I should get the same symptoms, I will keep your solution if mind ... J
05-30-2013, 10:05 AM   #3

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Contact cleaner (any hardware store) would be best for that I think -- specifically designed not to affect plastic parts, etc.
05-30-2013, 11:27 AM - 1 Like   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Gerbermiester Quote
99% pure rubbing alcohol (hard to find here in Canada)
Shoppers Drug Mart has it. You have to ask for it at the pharmacy counter at the back. I paid $1.99 for 500ML.

05-30-2013, 03:38 PM   #5
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Original Poster
Good input everybody.
I had heard about contact cleaner, but also discovered that it left a oil based residue to prevent further oxidisation. My thinking was that if I was turning a thumb wheel and kept getting oil on myself, I wouldn't be a happy camper. But, this might not be the case. Good suggestion vonBaloney.

Johnyates, that's smart going. Oddly enough, I went to London Drugs hoping to buy a bottle of the over the counter rubbing alcohol, but was disappointed to find that it was lower purity. I hadn't even thought about asking for the good stuff at the pharmacy. Good thinking.
06-14-2013, 01:33 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by vonBaloney Quote
Contact cleaner (any hardware store) would be best for that I think -- specifically designed not to affect plastic parts, etc.
I can confirm that. I have done electronic equipment repairs and it's better not to use alcohol because it can dissolve some plastics. You can buy contact-spray especially for electrical contacts. Otherwise use iso-propyl alcohol, it doesn't dissolve plastics and it cleans as good as pure alcohol. Isopropyl alcohol - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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